Take heed, Ellen DeGeneres: If you have any further plans for that adorable selfie you snapped while hosting the Oscars on Sunday night, you had better clear them first with the photograph’s real owner – Bradley Cooper.
TMZ helpfully points out that DeGeneres is not the official owner of the now-famous picture that “broke Twitter” (or at least broke the record for most retweets) and that unless he signed the rights away, Cooper is the rightful owner of the photo.
To boil down tons of legalese into simple terms: The person who takes a photo is legally the owner; the person who owns the camera or organized the shoot is not the owner.
And since Cooper’s long arms made him designated lensman of the snap that included Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts and other celebrities (except Liza Minnelli, who tried desperately to get into the shot but couldn’t), all rights to the picture belong to him.
In fact, even if DeGeneres was planning ahead and signed her rights over to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts of Sciences before she inked her hosting gig, the Academy would have no legal claim to the photo, because she can’t legally transfer what isn’t hers.
All that said, unless Cooper signed his rights away to the Academy, and so far there’s been no mention of that, he’s the copyright owner of the selfie that has so far been retweeted more than three-million times.
Which means that any unauthorized use of the picture without Cooper’s permission is a violation of copyright law.
None of which appears to be an issue yet. Cooper appeared fine with tweeting the photo out on the night of the Oscars and seemed amiable enough at an Oscar after-party (despite losing the best supporting actor award to Jared Leto).
But moving forward, any use or reproduction of the picture on TV programs – including DeGeneres’s own daytime talker – can only take place with Cooper’s blessing.
On a broader scale, the fact that the selfie broke a Twitter record and garnered massive media attention virtually guarantees that next year’s Oscars host will attempt the same stunt.
And you just know the Hollywood legal eagles are going to be prepared for the next time.